I thought a great way to honor certain fallen characters of the Mitch Rapp series would be to do a write-up, remembering each one, reflecting on what they meant both personally to Rapp, and to the franchise in general. So this post is the first in a series of several that I’ll publish leading up to the release of The Survivor, due out on 10/6.
It’s no secret that Mitch Rapp, America’s Assassin, ultimately chose his line of work out of anger. He sought revenge for the women he loved, who was killed in a terrorist attack on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland during his junior year in college. However, it was the death of another women, whom Rapp loved deeply, that would impact him the greatest – most probably forever.
In Mitch Rapp’s debut novel, Transfer of Power, author Vince Flynn introduced the world to one of the toughest, baddest, dudes to ever be created.
Rapp is a one man wrecking crew, and stands boldly on the front lines as America’s most efficient weapon against terrorism. Mitch is intense, doesn’t take orders well, and doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger when he’s got a bad guy’s head in his sights. Yet there’s also another side to him, one that readers only see when he’s interacting with Anny Rielly.
Anna was introduced in Transfer of Power as well. She and Mitch had instant chemistry, and even though their meeting was under the most dangerous and stressful of times, their sexual tension was sizzling pretty much from the get-go.
In later books, as Anna’s character grew closer to Rapp, she begins to really peel back the layers concealing things about Mitch, inviting readers and fans to see a different side of him. One that, frankly, we haven’t seen since her tragic passing in Consent to Kill.
Life Before Mitch
Annabella Rielly was beautiful and fit, with brown hair and sparkling green eyes. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois – spending summers at her family’s cabin on Lake Poygan, in Wisconsin. Her mother was a social worker, and her father was a police officer. She has four older brothers, two of which followed their father’s career choice. Anna, though, dreamed of being a reporter.
She went to the University of Michigan, where she played Volleyball, and spent a semester abroad in Paris. She majored in journalism and, after graduating, returned to Chicago as a weekend anchor for an NBC affiliate news station.
At some point during her five years on the anchor desk, she was walking home to her apartment in Lincoln Park when she was attacked, dragged into an ally, and raped. Psychologically, she had a long road of recovery after that, which her boyfriend at the time didn’t wait around for. At her father’s urging, she enrolled in a self-defense class, and learned how to better protect herself.
Eventually, Anna’s dream job became a reality. She was promoted, and became NBC’s new White House Correspondent. On the very first day of her new job, Rafique Aziz, a Palestinian terrorist, captured the White House, taking Anna and many others hostage while the president was tucked away in his secure bunker.
At one point, a fighting Anna was carried up to the President’s bedroom by one of the terrorists, who was planning to have his way with her. Having already lived through that hell, back on that horrendous night in the Chicago ally, Anna did all she could to keep her attacker from forcing himself on her. Just as she began to lose hope, and had nothing left with which to fight, Mitch Rapp appeared from behind the man on top of her and thrust a knife deep into his neck. A flick of the wrist later, and Rapp had severed the man’s brain stem, killing him instantly.
That was their first meeting. Right there in the President’s private quarters, with a dead terrorist bleeding on the bed, in the middle of a planned assault to overtake the White House. Yet, as Anna would later point out, it was fate that brought them together.
Life with Rapp
One of the things that I find absolutely fascinating is that, in a sense, the man who took Maureen – Mitch’s high school sweetheart – from Rapp, is also the reason Mitch meets Anna. That’s always been in back of my mind when I read the name Rafique Aziz, as he was one of the masterminds behind the attack on Pan Am flight 103, as well as the main villain in Transfer of Power.
One of the many reasons Anna was so good for Mitch was because she didn’t take any crap from him. She’s literally the only person we know of that’s physically hit Rapp, and walked away unscathed, and she did it twice.
The first time was in Paris, when Rapp brought Donnatella Rahn, an Israeli spy that also happened to be his former lover, back to his and Anna’s hotel room. To be fair, there’s more to it than that, and not as bad as it sounds.
Donatella had been shot, and Mitch’s meeting with her was for business purposes only, nothing more. That didn’t stop Anna from unleashing on Rapp, though, as she slapped him in his face out of anger. Rapp, keeping his cool, responded by telling her “Don’t ever hit me again! I don’t hit you! You don’t hit me!”
A book later, in Executive Power, Mitch and Anna are now married. He’s giving serious thought to leaving his life in the CIA behind because he want’s nothing more than to be with the women he loves. When he goes on an operation to rescue an American family that was taken hostage, he comes home with a bullet hole in his rear end.
That’s a big problem for Rapp, as he’s promised his pretty new bride that he’d be far from the action, and only there to plan and oversee the rescue operation from a safe distance.
Upon returning home, Mitch found that Anna was in a frisky mood. When her wandering hands landed on his backside, causing a jolt of pain to shoot through his body, she presses him for details on his “injury.” Furious to learn that he’d been shot, when he was supposed to be away from the bullets, Anna responded by first unleashing a verbal attack on Mitch.
Rapp attempts to follow her as she storms off out of their bedroom, with his head down and eyes closed – leaving himself vulnerable. Anna turned and connected with her fist just below Mitch’s eye, stunning him, and leaving his cheek a little puffy.
Nobody gets to do that to Rapp, nobody! We’ve seen Mitch slam a man’s head into a table for spitting on him. Remember, Mitch is a tough-guy. Terrorists can’t sleep at night, afraid he’s hunting them. Yet back at home, that reputation caries zero weight with his little Irish Catholic, hot-tempered wife. I always loved that she kept him humble in ways nobody else was ever able too, and I’d wager most married men can understand that feeling all too well themselves.
You know, you’re a big-shot at work after locking up an important client. Then, just ten minutes later, you’re at home getting an earful for not turning on the dishwasher or getting the lawn mowed. We’ve all been there, including Mr. Though-guy, Mitch Rapp.
My favorite part of that book (Executive Power) is the dialogue between Anna Rapp and Irene Kennedy. Both women love Mitch, but neither is too fond of the other to start with. Anna confronts Irene to find out exactly where Mitch is, thinking she’s going to get answers out the Director of the CIA.
Kennedy ends up being the one person who can put Anna in her place. When offered a drink during a relaxed event at the White House, Ann declines by telling Irene she’s “on duty”. Kennedy responds back with “Anna, I’m always on duty, and no offense, but my jobs a little more important than yours”. Burn!
Anna had been asking around town a little too much about where exactly her husband was when he was gone somewhere overseas for the CIA, and Kennedy realized that forming a friendship with her would put an end to that. So she opened up, ever so slightly, about what Mitch was doing. Of course, Irene also knew that there would be nothing in the entire world more uncomfortable for Rapp than learning that she and his wife were having private, friendly conversations.
The very next scene after Anna clocks Rapp in their home, Mitch shows up to Kennedy’s office. Honestly, it may be the funniest scene that Vince Flynn ever wrote.
Here’s Rapp, a big hero who just rescued a family and returned home with all of his men safely, forced to listen to his boss have a friendly conversation with his wife on the phone – talking about him. To make matters worse, or more hilarious in the context of the scene, Mitch could barely sit thanks to his aching buttocks after being shot.
He listens, helplessly, as Irene confirms a date to have drinks with Anna later in the week so the two can talk again. It’s one of those scenes where Flynn put his ability on full display, and shows what made him such a special talent. It’s a perfect moment, and one of my very favorites of all the Rapp books.
Anna also had the ability to lighten the mood, and make Rapp laugh. In Separation of Power, there’s a scene where the two of them are boarding their flight to Paris. Rapp, being the paranoid man that he is, always insists on being the last person in line to actually get onto the plane. Yet on this day, another man jumps into line behind them at the last minute. Anna, slightly buzzed already from a beer she’d been working on over at the bar, blurts out to her husband, “maybe he’s a spy” in a mocking, yet joking, tone.
Rapp’s not known for his sense of humor, but Anna provided enough for the both of them.
Another example of this quick-whit humor is in Consent to Kill. Mitch is heading back to have his knee operated on, while unbeknownst to him, his hospital gown in flapping in the breeze. Anna lets out a whistle, and yells “nice butt” down the hallway. Rapp shakes his head, and carries on.
Anna Rielly was more than just good for Rapp, her character also provided the opportunity for Vince Flynn to display his range as a writer, which, is simply spectacular. Vince could write an action scene on one page, detailing weapons and tactical information galore, and on the very next page he would eloquently capture the flirtatious banter of a couple in love. Not many people can do that and have it sound genuine and believable. Vince Flynn had it perfected.
There’s a lot of people, both in Vince’s novels and in real life, that don’t approve of the nature of Rapp’s profession, but Anna was never one of them. She’d done a report on terrorism while still working the weekend anchor desk in Chicago. She understood, fully, that the man she married was employed by the CIA to kill bad guys which, in return, saved American lives.
In Separation of Power a corrupt congressman, with a vendetta against Irene Kennedy and the CIA, provided the media with Rapp’s photograph and information. The President himself held a press conference to publically back Mitch, and made sure to set the record straight that Rapp is a hero.
Rather than be put off by the fact that people would forever judge her for marrying a man who some deem nothing more than just a plain killer, Anna stood unwaveringly by Rapp, and never flinched at the risk she was taking by marrying him.
Even in the beginning, Anna had always stood by Mitch both literally and figuratively. When they first met, after Mitch saved her, she was willing to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty to help save the President. She didn’t just hide in the safe room and wait for everything to be over, that isn’t her style. Instead, she was the one sliding down the inside of a ventilation duct to get eyes on the man drilling into the president’s bunker.
It’s in Transfer of Power that we learn Anna’s father was fond of saying “people show their true colors in a crisis” (page 99) – which is why I imagine she fell so quickly for Mitch.
She knew Mitch saved her even though the people calling the shots back at the CIA’s headquarters didn’t want him to deviate from his mission. She saw his willingness to do whatever it took to protect others, even if that meant giving his own life. Nothing could be more selfless, which is ultimately the best way to describe Rapp – and Anna saw that first-hand.
The only real problem Anna had with the CIA is that she didn’t want Rapp working there anymore, particularly for two main reasons. First, as a reporter and someone who naturally likes to know things and ask questions, she struggled with Mitch’s frequent answer of “I can’t tell you that” or “that’s classified” when she’d probe him about his work. The Second reason was because she loved him and didn’t like knowing he was in harm’s way.
Rapp possesses one of the best counterterrorism minds in the world, and therefore is a critical asset to national defense. He knows that, and yet he constantly struggled with the desire to quit working for the CIA so he could be with Anna and start a family.
Unfortunately, while they were very close to doing so, she and Mitch never got that opportunity.
Mitch was thrilled to learn that Anna was pregnant, as he’d expressed his desire to be a father several times over the course of multiple books. The fact that she was carrying his unborn child at the time of her death, leaves Rapp especially broken.
Coming home from his knee surgery, Anna pulled into a McDonalds at Mitch’s request. Rapp ordered a Big Mac and a Quarter Pounder, then quickly scarfed it all down. He was already feeling the sickening side effects from such a greasy meal by the time he arrived home. Stricken with a bout of nausea, he went inside and then proceeded to go straight out to the back patio for some fresh air.
That’s when the explosion took place, sending Rapp flying through the air, crashing onto his dock, and rolling into the Potomac River.
Kennedy was the one to break the news to Rapp, who had woken up in a hospital room unsure of what happened. It’s both a devastating and touching moment between the two, simply in the sense that readers are shown just how much Irene truly loves Mitch. His pain, is her pain.
She breaks down when facing him, less because of her own feelings of grief, more so because she knows that the man she loves like a little brother is about to experience far more pain than the injuries he’d sustained – which consisted of two broken ribs, a broken arm, swelling on the back of the brain and a deep contusion to his right thigh – could ever cause him.
Those injuries by the way, while they might keep me, or any other average guy confined to a bed, they weren’t enough to hold Rapp back once he learned that Anna was killed. The flood of emotions he felt was enough to power him upward, forcing orderlies to restrain him and a doctor to sedate him. Before he could do anything, his body needed more rest.
Several people, including Irene Kennedy, were there for Rapp during this dark moment, each of them fiercely loyal to him, and they deserve some recognition.
Coleman had Rapp’s back from the moment he heard what happened. He went to Rapp’s house, taking Charlie Wicker, and investigated things himself. He warned FBI Agent, Skip McMahon that once Rapp got out of bed, he’d be hunting down anyone who had anything to with his wife’s death, and he was going to kill them.
Sure enough, when Rapp was able, Coleman was front and center, following Mitch as he found each man involved – helping him seek and obtain his revenge. In fact, before that, Scott was the first one to visit to Rapp at the CIA safe house he’d been moved too, near Leesberg, Virginia.
It was Coleman that cut the restraints off of Mitch’s arms, and propped him up in bed, even though Rapp was supposed to remain tied up until further psychological tests were ran on him to assess his attitude. After filling in Mitch on all the details about how his home had blown up, and how Anna had died after being thrown into a tree in their front yard, he simply says to his friend. “Whatever you need… just let me know.”
Coleman was also the one who brought Rapp a change of clothes and a few necessities, including a brand new Glock 17 with a silencer and plenty of ammunition.
President Hayes was another person that stood by Mitch, as he literally gave Rapp his consent to kill (hence the title) anyone involved. He did so even though the vice president, secretary of state, attorney general, and the director of National intelligence did their best to convince him to keep Mitch far away from the investigation.
Rapp’s passport was even revoked, and Kennedy had to promise the National Security Council that she’d keep him under protective custody.
Kennedy, of course, had no intentions of sidelining Rapp from finding his wife’s murderer. She wasn’t able to use the agency to help, but that didn’t mean she had nothing to contribute. The biggest loss may have been access to the CIA’s G-5 airplane, which worked out okay anyhow since Coleman’s private company owned a G-3, and his men were itching to help Mitch out.
Tommy Kennedy, Irene’s son, was also there for Rapp. He went with is mother to the safe house, and did all he could to lift Mitch’s spirits. The same goes for Rapp’s only living immediate family member, his brother, Steven.
For the record, that Glock that Coleman slipped to Rapp, proved to be useful as Mitch used it save himself, Steven Rapp, Irene and Tommy when their safe house was attacked.
A Shocking, Yet Fitting Ending
Tough guys don’t cry, or so people think. Yet in Separation of Power, after Anna tells Mitch she cannot marry him, the book ends with him sitting on his back patio. The emotions of losing Anna consume him, and he’s literally driven to tears. Yes, Mitch Rapp …. Cried!
Anna, who was close by watching, approached him. Unable to see him in pain and agony, they made up after she’d gotten her point across to him – that that’s how she feels when he’s overseas putting himself in danger.
If Rapp cried then, imagine the gnawing pain always present in his belly now. The plethora of emotions he’d been carrying and working though, led to a somewhat shocking ending to Consent to Kill.
When Rapp finds Anna’s killer, not the man who subcontracted it – or the man who paid for the hit – but the man that punched the button, detonating the bomb in his home, he does exactly the complete opposite of what I expected. He lets him live.
Louis-Philippe Gould, “Louie” for short, was, in my opinion, a dead man walking. When Rapp finds him he, initially, has every intent to kill him. Gould asks to kiss his baby and wife, Claudia, one more time before Rapp executes him. When Louie bends down to kiss his infant daughter, he says “My sweet Anna” – which both catches Rapp off guard, and shakes him to his core.
Claudia, who was pregnant at the time, didn’t want Louie to take the job that would pay him handsomely to kill Mitch, she also had no idea Anna was pregnant herself. When she learned that Mrs. Rapp was killed while expecting a baby, she cried for days. Together, the married couple named their child Anna, after Rapp’s wife, to honor her. Mitch was taken back.
Reeling, he asked himself the question, what would Anna do?
As if she was present, Rapp felt his dead wife calling out to him. It was her, Anna, he was trying to avenge, not his own life, so he chose to honor what he felt her true wishes were. He walked out, leaving the couple and their child alive, and together.
To fully appreciate Rapp’s decision to let Gould live, some perspective on Mitch is needed. Consider that it’s his job to cleanse the world of evil, and he regularly disposes of such people. By my count, according to my kill catalog (you can find the tab on the menu bar at the top of the page), he’d already killed seventy-two people. It would have been easy to boost that total by one or two more, but he didn’t.
The profound effect that Anna’s death has on Rapp is seen in each book after Consent to Kill. In fact, in Pursuit of Honor, we see Mitch orchestrate a scheme to have Mike Nash promoted, and receive credit for his, Rapp’s, heroic actions at the end of Extreme Measures. While the public accolades all but assuredly end Mike’s career in the field, it’s a private conversation about Nash with Irene Kennedy that show just how fresh the wounds of losing Anna still are to Mitch.
“I’d leave this [stuff] in a heartbeat if I could turn back the clock and have Anna back. When he’s in town, he goes home to that family and they’re his. Those kids love him and the dumb [guy] takes it for granted.” (Extreme Measures, page 136)
But Rapp wasn’t done. In what is quite likely the most we ever see him open up, he adds
“when you’ve had something that meant more than anything in the world to you, and it was taken away… it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to do this [stuff] when the price is that high.”
Mitch dates a little bit on and off, though nothing ever materializes – not yet anyways. He’s instead very much a man with a callused heart, and tormented soul, caused by the repeated pain he’s endured from losing loved ones.
While he was never exactly known for his patience, his fuse has seemed to be shortening the last few novels, undoubtedly a reflection of his agony. Also, he smiles and laughs a lot less. Never like he did during those scenes with Anna, written so fabulously by Vince Flynn.
It’s entirely possible that at forty-forty, Mitch finds love again and settles down to start a family. In fact, I hope he does. But even if that happens, it’ll be hard for him to find, or any author to write, a women more perfect for him than Anna Rielly.
Anna Rielly/Rapp facts:
She attended the University of Michigan
She owned a “snub-nosed .38-calibar revolver”
Her full first name, Annabella, was only used once (by Rapp) in the entire series – when Mitch emails her best friend, Liz O’Rourke in The Third Option.
She was a fan of the Dave Matthews Band
She was only thirty-five years old when she was killed
A Personal Note
Vince Flynn will always be my favorite author, and Rapp will always feel like a friend to me. When my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our youngest child, we planned to name him Mitch if it was another boy. Instead, God gave us a little girl. My wife was on board with naming her after Rapp’s wife, but she wanted to come up with her own take and spelling of the name. She decided on Rylee Anna, and my baby girl just turned one in March.
For what it’s worth, I’m still hoping for a sixth child, my fourth boy, so I can add a Mitch to my little Rapp-pack!
As always, here’s a quote to end on:
“It didn’t matter how good Mitch was, his little powder keg of a bride was going to kick his [butt] like it had never been kicked before. It would almost be worth it to bug his house just to hear the interrogation.” – Vince Flynn, Executive Power